Handling Star Players will be Challenge for Strauss: Gower

London, July 5 (IANS): Former England captain David Gower feels that the challenge for Andrew Strauss in the Ashes series will be how to handle his star players.

In his column in The Sunday Times, Gower said that Strauss has to prove that he possesses more traits than those in former English captains Michael Vaughan, Mike Brearley and Ray Illingworth, who all were successful in inspiring their team to beat the Australians in the Ashes.   

"The best captains know the art of judging when a word or a chat is needed and for some players very little extra encouragement is necessary. If Strauss can achieve the same with the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, he will be in clover," Gower said.    

"It might sound strange to mention two men (Flintoff and Pietersen) for whom motivation and performance are not normally an issue, but the way the captain manages his stars is crucial, not just to Pietersen and Flintoff themselves, but also to the others in the dressing room. If they are on-message it is so much easier to keep everyone else on track," he added.    

Gower feels that Strauss is capable of handling tense situation and is blessed with a calm mind to take sensible decisions.   

"Strauss is good and also has that cool exterior. What he has yet to prove is that he possesses more of those Vaughan-, Brearley- or Illingworth-like traits. To win this Ashes series he will have to be braver than he was in the Caribbean....He did at least show us in that series that he can raise his own game in response to the demands of captaincy and if he can do that again over the next couple of months, a lot more will fall into place."    

On Ricky Ponting, Gower noted that the Australian captain's biggest challenge will be to keep his new-look team on track.   

"He (Ponting) remains one of the world's leading batsmen and, of course, the most successful Test captain. He does not have an unblemished record, having lost here in 2005 and to South Africa at home, but starts with a clean slate and the knowledge that he was able to lead his team to a revenge win in South Africa earlier in the year.    

"I like Ponting a lot as a player and as a person. He has fronted up and dealt mostly very well with the demands of leading Australia....I suspect that his mistakes of 2005, such as bowling first at Edgbaston, will make him better prepared for this campaign," Gower said. 


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